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Mission for Marcus
June 27, 2024


Hodes & Landy is proud to be the platinum sponsor for the Rotary Club of Delmar’s Mission for Marcus Fundraiser! Mission for Marcus is a Capital Region-based organization working to remove the stigma from substance use disorder. Representing H&L is Michele O’Connor, Matt Landy, and friends.Image

New York Capital Brief
June 14, 2024


Session Ends

The New York State Legislature concluded the 2023-24 NYS Legislative Session this past weekend. Legislative deliberations were delayed when Governor Hochul announced that she is temporarily pausing the implementation of congestion pricing in New York City.

Both the State’s and City’s budgets included assumed revenue from congestion pricing, so legislators attempted to negotiate a solution to ensure fiscal solvency. While this remains an outstanding issue, there is a possibility that legislators will need to return to Albany for a Special Session.

Legislators introduced over 20,000 bills over the two-year period. In 2024, the Assembly passed 964 bills, while the Senate passed 1,690 bills. Of these, 805 bills passed both houses.

Due to the end of the two-year legislative cycle, legislators will choose which legislation will be reintroduced in 2025. All legislation chosen for reintroduction will begin the committee process anew, beginning from its committee of origin, and all reintroduced bills will receive new bill numbers.

The results of this year’s Session are summarized below:

NYS Budget Recap

The negotiations for New York State’s 2024-25 State Budget went 20 days past the April 1 deadline. Once the budget bills were finalized, a $237 billion spending plan emerged with several new provisions, including policy changes such as increasing penalties for retail theft and harsher charges for assaulting retail workers.

The budget also makes permanent the sale of to-go cocktails by restaurants, a policy initially introduced during the pandemic. Additionally, the Empire AI Consortium will be established to advance artificial intelligence initiatives with state and private funding. Notably, “Sammy’s Law” will reduce New York City’s speed limit from 25 to 20 mph, and copays for insulin are now banned.

A $2.4 billion allocation will support the costs associated with aiding migrants in NYC. New protections against forced evictions for low-income residents and provisions for renters to challenge significant rent increases have been enacted. Mayoral control over New York City schools is extended for two years, with new provisions to limit class sizes. Development incentives now offer tax breaks to developers who reserve units for low-income residents. The new Supplemental Drug Rebate Program aims to control drug costs by enhancing the NYS Department of Health’s negotiation authority and removing parts of the existing drug cap.

Legislation Passed

Significant legislative proposals were finalized during the 2023-24 Legislative Session. Though some of these proposals were percolating for years prior, this year saw the passage of:

Teacher Evaluations– The state’s largest teachers’ unions had rallied for changes to the current system of teacher evaluations. New changes to statute will reduce how the evaluations are tied to standardized test scores, and will increase professional development opportunities for teachers.

Children on Social Media– Governor Hochul and lawmakers agreed in the final weeks of Session to pass two measures that will restrict the use of social media by those under 18, and will restrict the types of data being stored by these platforms.

Cryptocurrency and Blockchain Task Force– The Task Force would be tasked with a review of the digital currency, cryptocurrency and blockchain industries in New York State, and the use of digital currencies’ impact on state and local tax receipts

Health Emergency Response Data System (HERDS)– Provisions put forth would require the Department of Health to share aggregate data from HERDS reports with the public.

Grieving Families Act– This legislation would permit families to seek compensation for the emotional suffering caused by the loss of a loved one, in addition to the loss of income. The bill has passed the Legislature in the two prior years but has been vetoed by the Governor each time.

Any legislation that passed both houses can be delivered to the Governor for consideration anytime until the last day of the calendar year. Once delivered to the Governor, she has 10 days to sign or veto the bill. The Governor has until the last day of the calendar year to complete the consideration of all legislation.

Unresolved Legislation

With over 20,000 bills introduced in the 2023-24 Legislative Session, many bills never reached the floor for a vote. Below is a list of the legislation that was negotiated arduously, but that was ultimately not passed in both chambers:

Extended Producer Responsibility– This legislation would create a new mechanism to enable New York State to implement packaging and recycling standards on manufacturers. Under the provisions of the bill, companies would be financially responsible for the appropriate recycling of any packaging item.

Bigger Better Bottle Bill– The bill would raise redemption fees for certain beverage containers, including raising: the deposit refund value to ten cents, the handling fee to six cents, and improve the redemption process through implementation of grants to establish new redemption centers.

NY HEAT Act The bill aims to cap utility payments for low- and moderate-income New Yorkers, eliminate a subsidy for companies to install new gas hookups, and empower the state’s Public Service Commission to enact regulations promoting the transition away from gas. Governor Hochul had included parts of the bill in her Executive Budget proposal.

NY Privacy Act This legislation would have enshrined mandatory transparency-related data practices; the right for consumers to access, correct, and delete their data; and the requirement for businesses to obtain explicit consent before sharing personal information with third parties. The bill also proposed strong enforcement mechanisms, including significant penalties for non-compliance

Aid in Dying– The New York State Aid in Dying legislation proposes to allow terminally ill adults with a prognosis of six months or less to live the option to request and receive prescription medication to peacefully end their lives.

Implementation Issues

Congestion pricing in New York City was agreed to by lawmakers in 2019 and set to be implemented on June 30, 2024. However, last week Governor Hochul issued a public statement that she has requested the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to halt the implementation of congestion pricing indefinitely.

The Governor’s administration is also dealing with a difficult implementation of adult-use cannabis. In May, Governor Hochul released the findings of an audit conducted on the New York State Office of Cannabis Management. It showed inefficiencies and problems with licensing. Within days, OCM Executive Director Chris Alexander had submitted his resignation.

Changes to the Legislature

During the 2023-24 Legislative Session, several members announced their intention to end their tenure in the NYS Legislature. Some are moving to other endeavors while others are seeking higher office. Senators Kennedy and Mannion both announced their intended runs for separate Congressional seats. Sen. Kennedy has subsequently won his race via special election.

Senator Breslin announced his retirement, leading to Assembly member Fahy announcing her intention to run for the seat. Senator Thomas is also vacating his seat, leading to Assembly member Darling announcing her candidacy for that seat.

Other retirements include Assembly members Aubry, Byrnes, Dickens, Giglio, Goodell, Gunther, Jean-Pierre, Joyner, O’Donnell, Thiele, Weinstein, and Zebrowski. Several of these legislators were long-tenured members with Committee Chair positions. Our team will be monitoring closely when new Committee Chairs are chosen.

New York Capital brief:
March 29, 2024


Legislature Advances Extender, One Budget Bill

Today, the New York State Legislature passed a budget extender and emergency appropriations measure to ensure the State can continue operations through April 4th. Though legislators will not be paid until a final budget is enacted, today’s passage ensures state employees will have timely paychecks.

Due to the Easter holiday, the NYS Legislature was aiming to come to an agreement this week to avoid a late State Budget. Despite the looming April 1 budget deadline, lawmakers have conceded that negotiations will continue into next week.

Legislative leaders in both the Assembly and Senate have characterized negotiations as faring better than years’ prior. Despite this, Senate Leader Stewart-Cousins has noted that talks are firmly “in the middle,” while Speaker Heastie told reporters this week, “I think everybody’s under the understanding that you can’t always get everything you want.”

The NYS Legislature also passed the first of ten budget bills today. The Debt Service bill is typically the first of the budget portions to be passed by both houses as it deals with outstanding state debts. The timely passage of this legislation ensures that the State’s credit rating will remain unaffected.

Budget talks will continue after the holiday and into next week. Education aid, Cost-of-Living-Adjustment for human service providers, retail worker safety, tenant protections, and tax credits for real estate developers are all expected to remain contentious issues.

New York Capitol Brief:
March 01, 2024


New York State Advances Congressional Redistricting

The process of redistricting New York State’s Congressional boundaries reached a conclusion this week, after years of court challenges and deliberations by multiple bodies. District lines that had initially been drafted by State legislators, challenged in court, redrawn by an appointed “Special Master”, challenged in court, redrawn by the bi-partisan Independent Redistricting Commission, rejected by the NYS Legislature, and redrawn by the NYS Legislature, were approved by both chambers this week.
The three-piece legislative package was swiftly delivered to Governor Hochul, who signed the bills into law effective immediately. Political observers have cautioned that the newest districts may again be challenged in court. Regardless, the petitioning period for the NYS congressional districts begins this week.

New York Capital Brief:
February 09, 2024


NYS Budget Update

On January 17, 2024 Governor Hochul released her Executive Budget Proposal. The Governor has statutory authority to release 21-day and 30-day amendments to her proposal. Though the window for 21-day amendments has passed, our team expects 30-day amendments to be released on or before February 15, 2024.

The NYS Legislature has continued the budget process by holding Joint Budget Subcommittees on each section of the Budget. Halfway through that process, the hearings have yielded testimony from government agencies and stakeholders. With the Governor’s call to keep spending flat, many of the testimonies given focused on maintaining funding, with very few agencies expecting an increase for programming this year.

Once testimony is gathered from all subcommittees, both Houses of the Legislature prepare their one-house budget proposals. We expect the one-house budget to be released sometime in early to mid-March.

NYS Legislative Retirements, Departures Announced

As the Legislative Session continues, this year’s election cycle is heating up. Candidates that would typically wait until closer to the petitioning period have been choosing to relay their intentions to run for office well in advance. This year’s petitioning period is from February 27th – April 4th.

Already this year, the NYS Legislature has seen the immediate departure of legislators such as AM Joyner, the announced impending retirements of several legislators including Sen. Breslin and AM Aubry, Cook and Dickens, and the transitioning of legislators to both the private sector and to seek other elected positions. AM Zebrowski recently announced he is stepping away from public office, while Senator Kennedy has announced his intentions to run for Congress.

Beyond the special elections needed to fill vacancies, early voting starts on June 15th. New York State’s primary election is slated for June 25, 2024.

 

 

 

New York Capitol Brief:
October 13, 2023


NY’s Predicted Budget Deficit

New York’s fiscal landscape is facing a significant challenge, with the State Division of Budget forecasting a budget deficit of  $9.1 billion for the upcoming year with increased holes in subsequent years.

Comptroller DiNapoli’s recent report highlights the fiscal predicament, noting that revenues are expected to decline year-over-year in the current fiscal year. At the same time, expenditures are projected to grow at a faster rate. The report underscores the ongoing economic impact of COVID-19, including the struggle to recover all jobs lost during the pandemic.Budget Director Blake Washington has instructed State agencies to submit flat 2024 spending plans with no increases. Governor Hochul has said she is determined to avoid tapping into the reserve funds or raising taxes to bridge the deficit. The Legislature is likely to offer a variety of counter-proposals in an attempt to preserve programs and services. Already, the fiscally conservative Empire Center is advocating for spending cuts, particularly to Medicaid and education aid, while the more liberal Fiscal Policy Institute is calling for the use of reserves and targeted tax increases.

The budget-making process will formally kick off in mid-January with the Governor’s Executive Budget Proposal, followed by Budget hearings, legislative responses, and a final enacted budget due by April 1, 2024.

 

New York Capital Brief:
April 28, 2023


Conceptual Budget Agreement Reached

After surpassing the statutory deadline by 28 days and counting, Governor Hochul confirmed in a surprise Thursday evening press conference that “a conceptual [budget] agreement has been reached.” State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie were not present for the announcement.

New York Capitol Brief:
April 21, 2023


Budget Deadline to Be Extended Yet Again

After missing the April 1st statutory budget deadline and passing three initial budget extender bills. Legislators met Thursday, April 20 to approve a fourth extender, which is set to expire at Noon Monday, April 24th.

New York Capital Brief:
April 07, 2023


Budget Deadline to Be Extended Again

After missing the April 1st statutory budget deadline and passing a temporary budget extender bill this past Monday, the Legislature is preparing to pass another one-week extender bill on Monday, April 10.

Chief Judge Selection Process

Last week, Governor Hochul introduced legislation that would modify the judicial nominating process and prevent the Court of Appeals from operating with only six of its seven members for extended periods.

If the legislation is approved, it will allow the Governor to nominate a Court of Appeals Associate Judge to become Chief Judge. If the Senate confirms that nominee, the Governor could pick from the remaining finalists to fill the vacancy created by the selection of the new Chief Judge. The bill’s introduction could indicate that she is considering nominating one of the Court of Appeals’ sitting justices to be the next Chief Judge of the State’s highest court.

The bill’s introduction coincides with the Governor’s review of a new list of finalists for Chief Judge that the Commission on Judicial Nomination issued last week. The list includes three Associate Judges serving on the Court of Appeals. The New York State Bar Association, list all of the potential candidates for the post as either “well qualified” or “qualified.”

New York Capital Brief:
March 31, 2023


New York’s State Budget is Expected to be Late

New York’s State Budget is due April 1st, but State lawmakers acknowledged Thursday that it’s expected to be late…